Perhaps everything is lost. Perhaps we’ve passed the point of no return. Perhaps it is no longer possible to end the occupation and stop the settlements and attain peace. Perhaps it is no longer possible to rehabilitate Zionism and save democracy and divide the land.
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But if this is so, there is no longer any point in living in this country. And there’s no longer any point in writing for Haaretz. There’s no longer any point in reading Haaretz, either. We must do what Rogel Alpher suggested two years ago – leave the country. Go away.
If Israeliness and Jewishness are not vital components in our identity, and if we have a foreign passport not only in the technical sense but in the spiritual one – that’s it. We must say goodbye to our friends, pack our bags and move to San Francisco or Berlin.
And from there, from the land of the new German chauvinism or the land of the new American chauvinism, we must quietly observe Israel taking its last breath. We must take three steps backward and watch the Jewish democratic state sink into oblivion.
But perhaps all is not lost. Perhaps we haven’t yet passed the point of no return. Perhaps it’s still possible to end the occupation and stop the settlements and rehabilitate Zionism and save democracy and divide the land.
But if this is so, the obligation facing Haaretz’s writers and readers is not to spread hatred and not to migrate, but to fight.
In a state that is still a democracy, the only way to fight is to communicate with its people. Not to loathe its people or patronize them, but to respect them, listen to them and talk to them. Persuade them. Because neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will end the occupation. Neither the UN nor the European Union will stop the settlements. The only power in the world that can save Israel from itself is the Israelis themselves.
What do the Israelis want? Basic things. A Jewish state, which will reflect the Jewish people’s right to self-definition, protect its life and preserve its heritage. A democratic state, which respects all its citizens rights and upholds the free society that has been created here. A strong state, which will know how to handle the brutal environment we live in. A modern state, which will enable every child born here to live in dignity in a nation that is part of the free world in the 21st century.
If the center-left convinces Israeli society that it is offering it a Jewish, democratic, strong, modern state – it will win. If it talks about utopian peace that isn’t to be found and a state lacking national character that doesn’t exist in reality – it will lose. That’s it. That’s the whole story.
Rightist governments aren’t a decree of fate. Rightist governments are not a sin, either. Rightist governments are the punishment for the center-left’s not knowing how to talk to Israelis in a language they understand and appreciate. Creating a new political language, one that will talk to Israelis’ hearts, is the necessary condition to end the occupation, stop the settlements, rehabilitate Zionism and save Israel’s democracy.
The ideological move I have advanced in this newspaper in recent weeks and years is no coincidence. It stems from the feeling that we’re running out of time. It stems from a commitment to save our home. It stems from the assessment that the radical left is sabotaging the efforts to save Israel by centrist means.
But the radical left isn’t really important. Anyone whose Israeliness and Jewishness are not vital components of his identity isn’t really part of the game. So I lovingly accept his amusing attacks and will continue to strive for the essence – seeking that third way and that Israeli language that will enable us to live and not die.